The United States is moving to ratchet up pressure on Hezbollah, offering millions of dollars for information that leads to the arrest or capture of two of the Iranian-backed terror group’s top officials.
The State Department on Tuesday announced a $7 million reward for information about Talal Hamiyah, who runs Hezbollah’s External Security Organization, and $5 million for information about Fu’ad Shukr, a senior operative who helped plan the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
“The group seeks to develop and maintain a global capability to carry out acts of terror,” Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said Tuesday, further warning that while there were no imminent threats, Hezbollah was actively trying to target the U.S.
“We in the intelligence community do in fact see continued activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland,” Rasmussen said. “Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential [U.S.] homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook.”
Seen as Iran’s partner
U.S. intelligence has long viewed Lebanon-based Hezbollah as Iran’s primary partner for terror activities. And officials say Hezbollah operatives have been active worldwide, carrying out a deadly 2012 bombing in Bulgaria while pursuing additional plots in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Cyprus, Thailand and Peru.
Counterterror officials also worry that Hezbollah has successfully expanded its arsenal of advanced rockets and missiles, while building its own weapon production facilities.
And U.S. counterterror operatives have located Hezbollah weapon caches in Kuwait and Nigeria.
In addition to offering rewards for information that leads to the arrest of the two Hezbollah officials, the U.S. is also pressing allies in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia to target the terror group with sanctions to help close financial loopholes the group’s operatives have been using to their advantage.